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William Bradley Umstead, 1895-1954
Identity Card and Books.
From the William B. Umstead World War I Collection
North Carolina Collection Gallery, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

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Source Description
Identity Card and Books.
Call Number:
CK.621.56-57, 269
North Carolina Collection Gallery, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Physical Description:

MILITARY IDENTIFICATION CARD, single-fold cardboard, of Lieutenant William B. Umstead, "Unit Supply Officer" for the 317th Machine-Gun Battalion, American Expeditionary Forces; inside photograph of Umstead and general information; 2.5" (6.4 cm) in width and 3.75" (9.5 cm) in length; fair condition, pages fused to outer front and back of cover, stuck on back is a "CASH PURCHASES" receipt dated 9 April 1919.

POCKET BIBLE, New Testament, cover stamped with gold-tone American flag and inscribed inside cover in ink "Lt. Wm. B. Umstead / Bahama, N. Car."; inscribed opposite cover page is "William B. Umstead / 317 M.G. Bn./ Aunt Annie / Xmas 1917"; 2.5" (6.4 cm) wide and 3.75" (9.5 cm) high; bible in poor condition, significant water damage, fusing, and cockling of pages at front, page with inscription torn away at top.

BOOK, The Bear Hunt by Leo Tolstoy, pocket-size (New York: "Little Leather Library Corporation," n.d.), inscribed "Wm B. Umstead / Bahama / N.C." inside; 3.0" (7.6 cm) wide and 3.5" (8.9 cm) high; poor condition, cover water damaged, lining paper separating.


Small books were among other personal effects that Umstead carried with him to Europe. In addition to this copy of the New Testament (left), the young North Carolinian also carried The Bear Hunt written by Leo Tolstoy.

The story is based on the Russian authorís participation in tracking down and killing a badly wounded bear. That experience disgusted Tolstoy, so much so that in 1885 he gave up hunting on humanitarian grounds. In Umsteadís diaries and letters, he never reveals his motives for carrying this particular book, although its storyline holds obvious parallels to the inhumanity and gore common to war, especially on the battlefronts of Europe in 1918.

Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the electronic publication of this title.